Woman Who Burned and Buried Daughter’s Aborted Baby Wants Charges Dropped, Claims Unborn Baby Not a Person

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Oct 22, 2022   |   8:42AM   |   Lincoln, Nebraska

The lawyer for a Nebraska grandmother accused of illegally aborting her viable, late-term unborn grandchild and then burning the body wants a judge to drop two charges against her, arguing the unborn baby was not legally a “person.”

Jessica Burgess, 41, of Norfolk, could face up to eight years in prison for allegedly giving abortion pills to her 17-year-old daughter and aborting her unborn grandchild in April. According to police, Burgess allegedly burned and then buried the baby’s body after the abortion.

In court Wednesday, her lawyer Brad Ewalt asked District Judge Mark Johnson to throw out two of the five charges, arguing that the unborn baby was not legally a person yet under state and federal law, KTIV News 4 reports.

Ewalt said Burgess should not be charged with concealing the death of another person because the law does not recognize unborn babies as persons.

“Fetuses do not become legally ‘living’ until they are born alive and breathe independently,” Ewalt said, according to Norfolk Daily News. “Fetuses delivered dead by miscarriage or abortion are not legally cognizant ‘persons’ under Nebraska and federal law.”

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He also said Burgess should not be charged with performing an abortion after 20 weeks gestation because she is allowed to make medical decisions for her minor daughter, according to the report.

Burgess also is charged with prohibited acts with human remains, false information and performing an abortion by someone other than a licensed physician.

Her trial is scheduled for December.

Allegedly, Burgess obtained abortion pills for her 17-year-old daughter in mid-April and gave her instructions about how to take them. Later, police said she helped to burn and bury the aborted baby’s body.

In the case of Burgess’s daughter, Celeste, now 18, medical records obtained by police indicate that she was about six months pregnant when she allegedly took the abortion pills, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Nebraska bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Celeste Burgess also is charged with concealing a dead body, concealing the death of another person and false reporting, according to the report. Both mother and daughter recently pleaded not guilty.

Initially, police said Jessica Burgess told police that her daughter had gone into premature labor and gave birth to a stillborn baby. However, police said they later found records online of conversations between the mother and daughter in April about abortion drugs.

“(Celeste Burgess) talks about how she can’t wait to get the ‘thing’ out of her body and reaffirms with (Jessica Burgess) that they will burn the evidence afterwards,” according to court records of the police investigation.

It is not clear from reports what abortion drugs Jessica Burgess allegedly obtained for her daughter, but the most common, mifepristone and misoprostol, are not recommended after the first 10 weeks of pregnancy – suggesting the woman allegedly put her daughter’s life at risk as well as her unborn grandchild’s.

Abortions are legal up to 20 weeks in Nebraska. The law exempts pregnant mothers from punishment but allows abortionists and untrained individuals to be prosecuted for killing unborn babies and, especially in the case of individuals without a medical license or training, putting the pregnant mother’s life in danger.

Late-term abortions also are more risky for the mother as well as her unborn baby, and some states that allow late-term abortions require that they be done by a licensed doctor in a hospital because the risks are so high.

Abortion activists claim stories like these prove that the pro-life movement wants to punish mothers for aborting their unborn babies, but the truth is that pro-life laws protect both mothers and babies from abortions.

Recently, pro-life leaders representing 70 organizations published an open letter opposing laws that punish mothers for abortions. The pro-life movement supports laws that prosecute abortionists and those who help them abort unborn babies.